Chemistry researcher secures ERC award to develop advanced CO2 capture technologies

Posted on: 25 July 2019

Professor Wolfgang Schmitt from Trinity’s School of Chemistry, and AMBER, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research, at Trinity, has today been announced as a recipient of the European Research Council’s (ERC) Proof of Concept (POC) grant, worth €150,000.

This is a top-up for his ERC Consolidator grant of €2 million awarded in 2015 and brings his total research funding awarded in the last 6 years to over €4.5 million.

The award will be used to explore the commercial applications of a new advanced technology that facilitates efficient COcapture from air. The POC grant will enable the development of a commercial, stand-alone prototype that will demonstrate the economic and ecological viability of this emerging approach to atmospheric CO2 capture.

Proof of Concept grants are awarded to ERC grant holders as top-up funding to explore the commercial or innovation potential of the results of their ERC-funded research. Professor Schmitt at Trinity’s School of Chemistry, was awarded an ERC grant in 2015.

Through his ERC SUPRAMOL and Science Foundation Ireland-funded projects in particular, Professor Schmitt and his research team have examined metal-organic materials (MOFs) and other porous inorganic compounds. These materials can be functionalised and reveal unique, intrinsic micro- and macro-molecular structures that allow efficient capture of CO2.

The technology that will be explored through the POC grant should have exceptionally low operational CO2 capture costs, be modular and not be restricted to fixed locations or CO2 point sources. As a result, it could conceptually lead to negative or net zero CO2 emissions.

Professor Wolfgang Schmitt said:

We are delighted to be awarded this ERC Proof of Concept grant, which allows us to take our technology to prototype level and commercialise it. It is highly satisfying to work on research projects of global impact tackling CO2 emissions which are creating unprecedented threats to the world’s ecosystems and human activities.

Importantly, the award allows us to collaborate with the commercial team of the spin-out company, Trinity Green Energies and our friend & co-inventor – Professor Don MacElroy  Emeritus Professor, University College Dublin – who is an expert in experimental gas adsorption measurements, gas diffusion and process simulations.

Dr Sebastien Vaesen, the lead chemical engineer within the ERC projects and co-developer of the CO2 capture technology said:

“We are delighted that the potential of our research results in the area of CO2 capture are recognised by this award. The technology has the potential to facilitate the reduction of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions thus highlighting the potential impact and scalability of the proposed technology at European and global levels.”

Professor Michael Morris, Director of AMBER, added:

The award of this Proof of Concept grant to Professor Schmitt is particularly pleasing and an excellent acknowledgement of the world-leading research work being carried out by himself and the team of researchers he has assembled.  His studies are being undertaken to solve complex problems around the mitigation of climate change by absorption of CO2.”

“It provides a route to develop practical solutions to ameliorate global warming and bring national and international environmental and societal benefits as well as economic development to Ireland. It is a central component of AMBER’s programme looking at making breakthrough advances in creating materials and technologies that can foster a sustainable future for us all.”


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